Though there’s no evidence supporting the suggestion, recent statements have spurred controversy over USF’s possible role in the University of Central Florida’s (UCF) being overlooked by the Big East Conference.
The rumor originated last month from a column written by controversial sports columnist Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel. He went so far as to make calls for the government to intervene.
It has spread to websites like PewterReport.com, Sportingnews.com and many other media outlets,
The story should’ve died when it started.
“All Big East expansion inquiries need to be directed to Big East Commissioner John Marinatto,” a USF publicist said to Bianchi in an e-mail. “He is the sole spokesperson on this issue.”
As USF officials explained to the zealous Sentinel columnist, USF doesn’t control who’s next in line to enter the conference. Yet, their explanations were not enough.
To Bianchi, this meant clear guilt, especially since UCF spokesman Grant Heston said in an e-mail to the Sentinel, “We hope it’s not true, because our joining the Big East would clearly be a win-win for both universities.”
“If he is issuing a public statement of any kind on the issue,” Bianchi wrote in the Sentinel, “then UCF President John Hitt is clearly concerned that the Bulls may be lobbying against UCF joining them in the prestigious and profitable Big East. Heston would not issue a statement of any kind unless Hitt put his stamp of approval on it.”
Just because UCF leadership said in an e-mail that they hope USF isn’t blocking them from entry to the Big East doesn’t mean the Bulls are. Nonetheless, since their support of UCF was not proclaimed, Bianchi thinks USF must be lobbying against the Knights.
Despite the lackluster logic, USF still tried to clear up the confusion Bianchi was trying to stir up.
“(USF President) Judy (Genshaft) has always been clear that she doesn’t discuss Big East board votes in advance and in public – and the Big East insists that its commissioner (Marinatto) is the only spokesperson,” USF spokesman Michael Hoad said in an e-mail to AOLFanhouse.com in response to Bianchi’s original rumors.
Yet in Friday’s Sentinel, Bianchi wrote, “It’s no wonder USF is supposedly trying to block UCF from getting into the Big East. The Knights are already outrecruiting the Bulls now. Just think what will happen if and when UCF gets into a big-boy league.”
Regardless of the fact that Genshaft and USF don’t control UCF’s final destiny, Bianchi refuses to let his conspiracy theory go to waste.
It wasn’t too long ago that Bianchi made national sports news and saw time on ESPN for his refusal to vote for Cam Newton for this year’s Heisman trophy – which he ended up winning overwhelmingly – because of recruiting allegations involving his father that never conclusively placed blame on the player.
Perhaps Bianchi somehow has the ability to know the truth behind the matter despite a lack of evidence – a feat he is attempting to replicate.
Unfortunately, the rest of us are left to base our judgments and opinions on established facts.
One should think there’s no one other than UCF that’s stopping the Knights from entering the Big East or any other BCS conference.
It’s not USF’s fault that only a few years ago UCF’s football team saw a 17-game losing streak. Despite the fact that the program has been around since 1979, as old as the NBA’s three-point shot, the Knights have only been to four bowl games and lost three. Meanwhile, USF’s program is only 14 years old – less than half the age of UCF’s – and has been to six consecutive bowl games, winning four.
Maybe leaders of the Big East just didn’t see UCF as an attractive fit when they chose the Bulls over the Knights to join the league in 2005, as may be the case now with national football powerhouse Texas Christian University joining the conference instead of UCF.
Regardless of the reason why UCF can’t find a home in a BCS conference, one thing is for sure, there’s no evidence that USF leaders are undercutting the Knights bid to enter its conference or any other.
Genshaft and other USF leaders could continue to deny the rumors and make public statements all day if they wanted, but it isn’t likely to change the minds of those who refuse to base their opinion on reality instead of their own version of what they want reality to be in order to sell newspapers or create a name for themselves.
Justin Rivera is a senior majoring in history.